Identification cards, such as credit cards, employee ID cards, and even hotel keycards, despite appearing as simple thin objects that you can slide into your wallet, encompass a vast range of complex technologies that assure their performance and security. The reliability of the various facets of identification cards are provided by international standards and often physically observable on the cards themselves. For example, this includes the identification numbers (ISO/IEC 7812) and the physical characteristics (ISO/IEC 7810) of these cards.
Magnetic stripes are also crucial components of identification cards. Two standards specifying these, ISO/IEC 7811-2:2018 – Identification cards – Recording technique – Part 2: Magnetic stripe: Low coercivity and ISO/IEC 7811-6:2018 – Identification cards – Recording technique – Part 6: Magnetic stripe: High coercivity, have been revised.
The magnetic stripes of identification cards come in two distinct groups: low coercivity magnetic stripe cards (or “LoCo” cards) or high coercivity magnetic stripe cards (or “HiCo” cards). Low coercivity magnetic stripes generally are brown, and they are encoded at a low-intensity magnetic field, around 300 Oersted (Oe).
Because they are encoded at a low-intensity magnetic field, LoCo cards are typically used for short-term applications. This includes hotel room keys and season passes for theme parks, amusement parks, and water parks.
ISO/IEC 7811-2:2018 – Identification cards – Recording technique – Part 2: Magnetic stripe: Low coercivity specifies guidelines for a low coercivity magnetic stripe (including any protective overlay) on an identification card, the encoding technique, and coded character sets. It takes into human and machine considerations and outlines the physical characteristics of the magnetic stripe, surface roughness, adhesion of stripe to card, resistance to chemicals, performance characteristics, and related information.
ISO/IEC 7811-2:2018 replaces and supersedes the fourth edition of the low coercivity magnetic stripe standard from 2014. Its primary changes include better alignment with ISO/IEC 7811-6:2018 (through usage of the same definitions, criteria, and test methods across both standard documents), the adjustment of the supplier of secondary reference cards from Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) to Q-Card, and the alteration that the primary standard cards held by Q-Card are used to calibrate the manufacture of secondary reference cards.
You can learn more about the standard for high coercivity magnetic stripes in our companion post on ISO/IEC 7811-2:2018.
ISO/IEC 7811-2:2018 – Identification cards – Recording technique – Part 2: Magnetic stripe: Low coercivity is available on the ANSI Webstore.